On the job training

Got to help out the Salvation Army major here the past several days. It’s the 100th year anniversary of the Salvation Army here in Juneau. The local corps put on a dinner for the visiting dignitaries, and Shane, the major in the church here, is a great cook, and so rather than catering, he did the  dinner himself. He cooked 8 port shoulders all day, then I met him at the church kitchen with his kids and helped them pull the meat apart. He also made a two or 3 bean dish with bacon that was either added or already in the cans of beans. We put the beans in two big high sided trays, and the pork meat in another two trays, and then put them in the fridge.

The next day a few hours before the dinner, we put the beans and pork in a 350 degree oven to reheat it. We turned the contents every 20 minutes or so. When we got down to 30 minutes to meal time, I cranked up the heat to about 400 as I was worried we weren’t getting warm enough, and by 30 min later, everything was great.

Then today we had an afternoon event at the Douglas Pavilion ball fields area. I was to cook 500 hot dogs to give away out of the Salvation Army canteen RV we used up in Haines during the landslide disaster a year and a half ago. Shane ran me through how to do it before hand. I mean, this stuff isn’t heart surgery, but if you haven’t cooked 500 hot dogs to serve before, the advice was most welcome.

I got going about 4 hours ahead of time. I filled both my pressure cooker pots about half full of water and put them on the stove. Then I got the hot dogs from the army kitchen refrigerator, and started unpackaging all the hot dogs. When the water in the pots began to boil, I filled them with hot dogs until the water was near the top, and I put the lid on. I didn’t pressure cook them – just used the pots for the job.

I’d read it takes about 4 to 6 minutes to boil a hot dog. But I knew I’d put all these hot dogs into boiling water, and that cooled the water, so I started timer at 5 minute intervals, and I’d take the hot dog temperature every 5 minutes. I was shooting for 165 degrees. It took about 15 minutes to get the pot of hot dogs on the big burner up to 165 degrees, and about 20 minutes to get the pot on the smaller burner there.

Like I saw Shane do, I filled pans with boiled hot dogs after I let them drain for a short period, and put the pans in a heated oven until they were all done. Then I put the hot dogs in cambro containers, which kept the hot dogs warm til the end of the day.

Next I learned at a Salvation Army event, while there may be alot of left overs, it’s likely not much goes to waste. Among the attendees at the event were people that the Salvation Army regularly feeds, and people that help feed those who need it alongside the Salvation Army. Both of these groups know people who can use the food.

So, I started packaging up the hot dogs in groups of 12 or 24 in foil, since the rolls were 24 to a bag. That way I could hand of a pack of hot dogs with a bag or half bag of buns, and the two could be united when they were needed, and not beat up the buns by putting them all together.

Of course, there was pulled pork to be taste tested and broken hot dogs to be taste tested, so I’ve had my fill or the two for awhile. But I’m better prepared to tackle a big meal now should the need arise.